How To: Make Cold Brew Coffee

How To: Make Cold Brew Coffee

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Rev up and cool down your mornings with cold brew coffee

cold brew coffee

Confession: I am a fussy coffee drinker. But not in the “half-caf foamy vanilla whip blah blah whatever” you are probably thinking. I just happen to only drink iced coffee. Like, always. Even when it’s the dead of winter and I’m walking in a snowstorm. I can’t help it – hot drinks just make me more thirsty. Now that summer is here though, I’m not the only one cooling off with a cube-filled cup!

The other thing that makes me fussy about my coffee is that I like it to taste halfway decent. No pouring the hot stuff over iced cubes, resulting in a watered-down lukewarm cup o’ joe. No burnt taste (I’m looking at you, Starbucks.) I admit I’m a coffee snob. Thankfully I live in a huge city and delicious iced coffees are not hard to find. I know this is not always the case though, having suffered through a few rough patches during visits to my wee midwestern hometown before we got our very own coffee shop.

Unfortunately going out for coffee can really add up. Unlike a perfectly pulled shot of espresso, delicious cold brew iced coffee is super easy to make at home, and you don’t even need any fancy equipment! You probably have everything you need in your kitchen already. I cold brewed my coffee in a regular old kitchen pot for years before I upgraded to…wait for it…a large mason jar. Swanky.

What exactly is this cold brew business I speak of? With cold brew you steep the coffee grinds in cold (or room temp) water instead of hot. It takes longer, but this leads to more nuanced flavors that are easy to miss with traditional brewing methods.

Coffee beans have flavor notes just like wine – often things like chocolate, toffee, berry, citrus – and good beans should also note how acidic they are. The other awesome thing about iced coffee: although more work goes into making it on filtering day, the rest of the days you can just pour and go! Your morning routine just got faster.

cold brew coffee supplies

Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
This recipe makes a concentrate, so you will have to add more water when you want to drink it, but it takes up less space in your refrigerator than the full batch.

Ingredients:

1 cup ground coffee
2.5 cups cold water

Equipment:

Medium pot
Fine-mesh sieve
Extra pot or bowl
Funnel
Coffee filter that fits your funnel (#2 size for me)
Large jar with a lid

Directions:

cold brew coffee instructions

1. Pour grinds and water into a large mason jar or pot and cover. Let steep for 12 hours. Countertop is fine, but if you have space in your refrigerator you can put it in there and it will be cold right away upon filtering.

cold brew coffee recipe

2. After 12 hours pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another pot or bowl and throw the resulting grinds away. The longer it steeps the more bitter your coffee will become, so while you don’t have to be a stickler about time, you’re best to try to stick pretty close to the 12 hour mark.

cold brew coffee

3. Stick the funnel in the jar and line it with a coffee filter. Begin to pour the coffee in. This second step catches any small bits that the sieve might have missed so you don’t end up with a mealy last sip in your cup. This part of the process is the most time-consuming. Depending on the size of your funnel, it will probably take a couple of separate pours.

4. Pop the jar in the fridge. Whenever you would like a cup of coffee, measure out some of the coffee concentrate over ice and add twice that amount of water. Stir to mix, and enjoy!

Options: You can play around with a number of different factors to adjust the coffee according to your taste. The biggest ones: grind to water ratio, concentrate to water ratio, steep time, and origin of bean. For example, if you would like a stronger cup use less water in steeping or diluting – or steep for a longer amount of time.

iced coffee

Tips: One thing is super important when choosing coffee to cold brew: select decent beans. This doesn’t mean you have to buy $20 bags of fancy pants beans (although those will probably taste amazing!) but it does mean you should stay away from the Folger’s.

If you have the means to grind your own beans at home, you get the best flavor from beans ground right before you brew. If not, try a place like Trader Joe’s or another market that will let you grind the coffee in the store instead of purchasing pre-ground coffee.

There is some debate as to whether you should use a coarse or a fine grind for cold brew, but as of late people have been into a fine grind, saying it gives more surface area & more flavor. I usually grind one or two notches above the super fine espresso grind.

Tasting Notes: Take a look at the notes on the label. Your pick will vary depending on your personal taste, but I skew towards descriptions of chocolate, caramel, and toffee for a smoother cup. You really notice these flavors if you happen to be drinking your coffee with food. Cold brew results in lower acidity, making it a smoother cup on the palate, but it is best to use beans that are already low in acid.

we heartsters – do you switch to iced coffee during the summertime?

photos: heather for we heart this

Heather blogs at foodforfunandpleasure and is a spice mistress extraordinaire at the Spice Station in Silverlake, CA.

22 thoughts on “How To: Make Cold Brew Coffee”

  1. As its hitting 100 degrees here in NY this sounds awesome! And convenient! I know Heather, and its true I’ve never seen here drink a hot coffee and yes she’s a total coffee snob, so you know this must be good!

  2. You are so right—this is the best way to make really yummy iced coffee. I just throw mine into a French press and let it sit overnight, and then transfer it into a Mason jar. Lately I’ve been tossing stuff in for flavor, too: orange zest or cinnamon or cacao nibs. So easy!

  3. I still drink hot coffee in the office because it’s really cold in here, but I do love iced coffee anywhere else! This looks awesome and makes me want a cup right now :)

  4. @amity – yum, I love the idea of cacao nibs in the coffee! I’ll have to try that out!

    Sipping a delicious coffee at this very moment – the perfect way to start the day!

  5. I love this, because I’ve always been told to drink cold brew coffee since regular coffee upsets my stomach. But I never thought of having a jar of cold brew concentrate to keep in the fridge, although I do this with my tea so it makes perfect sense!
    And I love Amity’s suggestion; I always toss my leftover vanilla bean pods in a tin of sugar, but I could save them for steeping in my cold brew!!

  6. This is a unique way to make a yummy drink..kinda reminded me of using the French Press It may be a back East thing.. but it was normal where I lived to drink Ice Coffee.. I love it! I like crushed ice and a splash of milk.. no sugar is needed in my opinion!
    off topic a bit.. but we recently purchased a small coffee roaster and buy our own organic green coffee beans.. I like a light to medium roasted bean but I’d like to try this method out with them.. The beans are key to me though for a superior cup of Joe.. Great post, I’m going to try this too!

  7. I love this post, @heather! I am a bit of a coffee snob too, and I can’t bear drinking a steaming hot cup when it’s already 85 at 7 a.m. These instructions are great and I can’t wait to give this a try!

    1. Roasting only takes a few minutes.. Coffee is at its peak 4 to 24 hours after roasting, after which time the volatile flavor oils begin to evaporate as the carbon dioxide gas seeping from the freshly-roasted bean dissipates. Hubby is a brewer and found this one for home use.. It is so easy to use and winds up saving us a lot of money in the long run! Our new slogan in life is, “Quality and Bang for your buck is better then quantity and paying out your nose for less! :)

  8. Love this one @Heather! I love iced coffee and lattes – but never have luck making iced coffee at home. Too watery. Lately I’ve been lame and making normal brewed coffee and putting the leftovers in the fridge. It’s fine – but this looks amazing!

    And great tips on throwing in vanilla bean pods and/or cacao nibs into the mix – you ladies are crafty.

  9. A few years ago we tried to roast our own with a crate and barrel pop-corn maker and it worked but took forever as it’s done over the stove and can be tricky to get it just right.. it did work though but never consistent.. Nowadays, we’re really lucky to have found some great products like the one we got for home. This is made well and not too expensive. A real win-win for the peeps that want to have the best things in life, for not so much money!

  10. To do list for this weekend:
    1. Make Cold Brew Coffee
    2. Drink Cold Brew Coffee and throw away the rest of the list…
    Meaning, all I want to do this weekend is drink this coffee!

  11. I love cold brew coffee but am always too chicken or lazy to make my own. I think that you have now convinced me. Thanks for the great how-to!

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